International politics and government

All Commons Briefing Papers
160 Documents
28.09.2016Georgia 2016
Georgia has signed its Association Agreement with the EU and Georgian leaders have described this as a historic chance to return to Georgia's natural European environment
19.09.2016The Philippines: September 2016 update
President Rodrigo Duterte took office at the end of June 2016 pledging to take a tough approach to criminals. Since then, over 3,000 people have been killed in his controversial 'war on drugs', about two-thirds at the hands of vigilantes. There have been protests both at home and abroad. Duterte is also pushing ahead with peace efforts in the south, where there has been a long-running insurgency, but observers worry that the new president could prove to be a 'loose cannon'.
25.08.2016The Occupied Palestinian Territories: recent developments
Security conditions have been worsening in the West Bank and Gaza in recent months, while the two-state solution seems to be going nowhere. The Palestinian leadership's attempts to gain state recognition have had some success, but have not improved the situation on the ground, as politics in both Israel and the Occupied Territories seem to become less conducive to a negotiated settlement.
29.07.2016Disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory: July 2016 update
This briefing describes the main developments since mid-2013 in long-running disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). A UK Government decision on Chagossian resettlement is pending. The status of the Marine Protected Area is contested. There has been no progress on sovereignty. Mauritius says it will seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice. The future of the US military base on Diego Garcia must be decided by the end of the year. Meanwhile, there continues to be litigation in the English courts.
28.07.2016Brexit: some legal and constitutional issues and alternatives to EU membership
This paper considers how the UK will leave the EU, some legal and constitutional issues, and possible alternatives to EU membership. What is the process for leaving the EU? Will the UK join a different grouping of states or go it alone? Will EU or UK citizens or businesses have any vested rights?
27.07.2016Somalia: July 2016 update
Somalia remains highly fragile as it prepares for legislative and presidential elections in August and September 2016 respectively. Even at this late stage there are reports that the elections may be delayed. The elections will not be on a 'one-person one-vote' basis as was originally hoped. While it has suffered setbacks, Al-Shabaab remains a real threat.
22.07.2016Israel and the Palestinians: no through road?
This Commons Library briefing paper has been archived as it no longer offers up-to-date information. However, we have published other papers which may be of interest.
12.07.2016The South China Sea dispute: July 2016 update
Southeast Asia is home to a range of complex territorial disputes, but the most intractable and combustible is the South China Sea dispute. Tensions between the rival countries have been on the rise in recent years. An Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea has ruled in favour of the Philippines in a case brought by that country against China.
05.07.2016Russian foreign and security policy
How is Russian foreign policy made, and what are the motive forces behind it? How does that play out around the world and in Russian relations with the West?
30.06.2016Brexit: what happens next?
Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU, what will happen next? This Commons Library briefing paper looks at the immediate consequences of the vote and some of the longer term implications. This paper considers various questions about UK withdrawal from the EU and what is likely to happen in the coming weeks and months. The issues include the method of leaving the EU, continuing parliamentary scrutiny of EU business and the withdrawal negotiations, and the implications of Brexit for Scotland and Gibraltar.
20.06.2016Burma: June 2016 update
Burma has a new government, with Aung San Suu Kyi, who embodies the country's long struggle for democracy and human rights, effectively at its head. Is this the new dawn that so many have been hoping for? It is certainly a time for optimism -- but many huge challenges remain.
08.06.2016Kashmir: June 2016 update
India-Pakistan relations remain fraught with danger and mistrust, not least over Kashmir. In September 2015, with regular exchanges of fire across the Line of Control and continuing armed attacks against the security forces in Indian Kashmir by Pakistan-based groups, Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, made more peace proposals. But India responded coolly at the time, arguing that Pakistan should end its support for terrorism first. Since then there has been little progress.
08.06.2016Mali: June 2016 update
In 2012-13 Mali experienced a massive political and security crisis from which it has been struggling to recover. This briefing provides a quick overview of that crisis, what has happened since then and what the UK's role has been.
28.04.2016Burundi crisis one year on: April 2016 update
Over the last year Burundi has been convulsed by a political and human rights crisis whose origins lie in the decision by President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek and then win a third term in office.
14.04.2016Canada 2016
Canadians gave the Liberals a strong majority in Parliament at the 2015 general election, surprising many observers. How has the new government been getting on?
06.04.2016Bangladesh: April 2016 update
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper which looks at political and security developments in Bangladesh since the beginning of 2015. The ruling Awami League (AL) seems to be in the ascendancy, while its bitter rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), is in apparent retreat.
14.03.2016War and peace in South Sudan: March 2016 update
South Sudan has been embroiled in a brutal civil war involving immense human suffering since December 2013. After numerous false starts, a peace deal was agreed in August 2015, but important elements are yet to be implemented.
12.01.2016The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review
This Commons Library briefing paper examines how the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review will affect the armed forces.
11.01.2016The UK National Security Council
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the UK National Security Council (NSC). Using a Q&A format, the briefing provides basic information about its origins, mandate and operation.
14.12.2015The 2015 UK National Security Strategy
The Commons Library has published a briefing which provides an overview and analysis of the 2015 UK National Security Strategy (NSS). Published on 23 November 2015, the NSS is incorporated into a single document with the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which sets out the specific policies and capabilities flowing from the strategy.
30.11.2015Syria: a reading list
This is a reading list that covers the situation in Syria, the complexity of battling Syrian groups and of outside interventions, the legal implications of any UK intervention and other aspects that will form part of one of the House's most significant debates of recent years.
30.11.2015Pakistan: November 2015 update
The Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) government, led by prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is now well into its third year in power. Its tenure has arguably seen a weakening of civilian authority, although there seems little prospect of a military coup. But the overall security situation within the country has improved markedly during 2015.
16.11.2015Famagusta debate
The House of Commons is debating a Backbench Business motion on 16 November 2015 that calls for the Cypriot city of Famagusta to be returned by Turkey to its 'lawful inhabitants'.
27.10.2015Afghanistan: back on the agenda?
As the Taliban has made gains and ISIS has a foothold in Afghanistan, the US has announced that it will not withdraw its troops so quickly as planned.
28.09.2015The Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda
On 25 September UN Member States agreed 17 'Sustainable Development Goals' at an extraordinary Summit of the UN General Assembly. At various points during the negotiations, the UK Government expressed concern that 17 goals was too many. Debates continue over how far the goals embody a 'transformational agenda'.
18.08.2015Cuba and the United States - how close can they get?
Since December 2014, when the Presidents of the US and Cuba announced the beginning of a rapprochement, there have been developments on both sides. The US has eased travel and commerce restrictions; in April the two leaders met in person and in May 2015 the US officially lifted its designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. In July both countries opened embassies in the other country. But much remains to be done before relations can be considered 'normal' and it is far from clear how close the two countries will get. This note looks at what has happened so far and obstacles to be overcome.
05.06.2015Do sanctions work?
There are now many analysts who argue that sanctions do work, partly because of their increasingly sophisticated design. However, evidence remains mixed at best. Politicians may be finding them useful for other things than their stated aim of causing 'rogue' countries to choose a different policy
15.05.2015UK relations with Hong Kong: May 2015 update
This briefing surveys developments in Hong Kong since August 2014 and the UK's response. The Hong Kong Government is seeking approval for its proposals to elect the Chief Executive by universal suffrage in 2017. Critics argue that they are a sham.
26.03.2015Election in Israel
A parliamentary election took place in Israel on 17 March 2015. No party won an overall majority, but Likud - the centre-right party of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - remained the largest party. This note provides a summary of developments.
23.03.2015Civil war in South Sudan: a primer
South Sudan has been embroiled in a brutal civil war since December 2013. On one side is the government of President Salva Kiir Mayadit (Sudan People's Liberation Movement) and its' allies; on the other side is former Vice-President Riek Machar (Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition) and his backers. As some observers warned might happen at the time, the euphoria and optimism that attended South Sudan's independence in July 2011 has quickly been shattered. At least 2.5 million people currently face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. 1.5 million people have been internally displaced. An estimated 60,000 people have been killed. With the price of oil down and oil exports in decline, the country's economy is in a parlous condition. Peace talks have so far failed and observers now fear a return to all-out conflict.
03.03.2015International Women's Day 2015: Background and statistics
What are the trends for women's equality in the UK and across the globe? This document provides background statistics for International Women's Day 2015, examining international comparisons and UK-specific data.
02.03.2015Ethiopia: DFID ends support for the Promotion of Basic Services Programme
On 26 February 2015, the Department for International Development (DFID) announced that it was reconfiguring important elements of its bilateral aid programme with Ethiopia. A key element of this reconfiguration is ending its support for the 'Promotion of Basic Services Programme' (PBS), a large multi-donor programme that also receives support from the World Bank and the African Development Bank. DFID's announcement is striking in that it makes no reference to the controversy that has surrounded the PBS in recent years. Some have implicated it in the Ethiopian Government's 'villagisation programme', which has allegedly involved forced resettlement and human rights abuses. This briefing seeks to place DFID's announcement in context.
02.03.2015Japan: Abe's constitutional and security agenda
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (the LDP) won a decisive victory in snap elections held in December 2014. One of the reasons for holding early elections was Abe's desire to amend Japan's 'peace Constitution' so that in future it expressly permits the country's armed forces to come to the aid of allies under attack. This is known in Japan as the right of 'collective self-defence'. In mid- 2014 the Japanese Cabinet approved interpreting the Constitution in this way. Abe is now seeking to give this new interpretation legal and constitutional underpinning. Important as it is, amending Article 9 of the Constitution is just one part of Abe's plans on the defence and security front. Japan is now looking to enhance its defence capabilities so that it can play a greater role in promoting international 'peace, stability and prosperity'. It will also increase its ability to respond effectively to any attack on the Senkaku Islands (as Japan calls them) in the East China Sea.
29.01.2015India-Pakistan relations: January 2015 update
India-Pakistan relations remain fraught with danger and mistrust. Since October 2014, there have been regular exchanges of fire between their troops across the 'Line of Control' which runs through contested Kashmir. Turbulent times could lie ahead.The two nuclear-armed governments accuse each other of responsibility for these skirmishes. The tenor of their exchanges has become increasingly hostile. There are also Indian claims that militant groups based on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control are seeking to infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir in larger numbers. Over recent months, there have been several battles between militants and security forces. Hopes that India and Pakistan could resume talks in earnest following the electoral victory of Narendra Modi in India last year have not yet been realised. He is currently acting like a man for whom a deal with Pakistan is desirable but not essential. His self-confidence may soon receive another boost. Political developments within Indian Jammu and Kashmir could produce a coalition government involving his party, the BJP - an outcome which few observers would have predicted until very recently. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government is keen to do a deal with India on Kashmir and other issues but cannot afford to look weak. He will be hoping that the PDP decides against joining up with the BJP in Indian Jammu and Kashmir. The more moderate Kashmiri separatist leaders will share the dismay of the Pakistan government if it does. However, the armed militant groups - whose influence and reach have waned in recent years - are likely to be delighted if the BJP shares power, as increased political polarisation could act as a recruiting-sergeant for them. Pakistan's anxieties about the increasingly close US-India relationship have heightened recently. President Obama recently finished a three-day visit to India in which numerous deals were signed.
28.01.2015Greece's new anti-austerity coalition
The recent parliamentary election in Greece was a triumph for the radical left-wing Syriza party, which has now formed an anti-austerity coalition. What are the political and economic implications of these developments?
21.01.2015Political crisis in Bangladesh: January 2015 update
The political scene in Bangladesh remains as turbulent as ever. Flawed elections in January 2014 were boycotted by the main opposition parties, leaving the field clear for the ruling Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina. There has been renewed protest action on the streets to mark the first anniversary of the elections, which has led to increased violence and at least ten deaths. Opposition leader Khaleda Zia was detained in her office for over two weeks by the authorities and faces trial for corruption. This briefing provides an overview of developments in the country since the 2014 elections.
19.01.2015Nigeria 2015: analysis of election issues and future prospects
This paper looks at the multiple challenges facing Nigeria as it prepares for presidential and legislative elections on 14 February 2015. These elections will take place amidst an atmosphere of even greater crisis and uncertainty than usual. Boko Haram's insurgency in the north of the country continues unabated. There are fears that the country might break up if the election aftermath is poorly handled. However, some observers remain remarkably hopeful about Nigeria's future, predicting that its enormous economic potential is on the verge of being realised at last.
01.12.2014Hong Kong: pro-democracy protests and proposed FAC visit
A summary of recent events related to Hong Kong, including the pro-democracy protests and the Chinese Government's refusal to allow the Foreign Affairs Committee to visit.
03.10.2014International status of Palestine
Which countries have extended diplomatic recognition to Palestine? What is the status of Palestine at the United Nations?
02.10.2014Malaysia: the ruling coalition strikes back
In May 2013 elections, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, led by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, won a majority of seats in parliament despite gaining only 47% of the vote. With his leadership under significant threat within UMNO, the dominant Malay party within the BN, since the 2013 elections Najib has launched a campaign of harassment of the political opposition and a focused anew on affirmative action for Malays. Longstanding sodomy charges have been revived against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Najib's reforming credentials currently look threadbare.
30.09.2014Universal suffrage to elect the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017: a legal primer
In August 2014 the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress decided that the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong should be directly elected in 2017 by universal suffrage. However, the candidates (expected to be two or three in total) will still have to be approved in advance by a nominating committee, whose composition and method of formation will remain unchanged from that of the 1200-person strong 'Election Committee' which elected the current Chief Executive in 2012. Critics argue that this nominating committee will have an in-built 'pro-Beijing' bias. The decision has triggered a wave of protest. This briefing summarises the legal context of recent events, including the UK's own obligations.
08.09.2014France: Government reshuffle
Details of the recent Government reshuffle in France.
01.09.2014Gaza ceasefire agreement
A summary of the Gaza ceasefire agreement of August 26, which put an end to hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants.
11.08.2014The US mid-term elections: domestic and foreign policy issues
As the US mid-term elections approach, the Democrats and Republicans are tied, approximately, in the opinion polls. This note brings together some polling information and summarises some of the main issues and recent news stories that may affect the result.
22.07.2014Hostilities in Gaza: latest developments
An overview of the latest developments in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
11.07.2014Debate on possible independence of Catalonia: key issues
The Catalan Government hopes to hold a "consultation" on Catalan independence on 9 November 2014., but the Spanish Government hopes to prevent it from going ahead. This note provides an overview of the debate.
02.07.2014Abduction and murder of Israeli teenagers
Briefing on current tensions in the West Bank following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
01.07.2014Formation of new Palestinian government
Briefing on Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, formation of new Palestinian government, and international reaction.
27.06.2014France's Front National (FN)
A brief profile of the far-right Front National (FN), led by Marine Le Pen, which obtained 24.9% of the vote in France in the recent European elections. This result was described as a 'political earthquake.'
27.06.2014Somalia - President Mohamud on the back foot while al-Shabaab attacks continue
A few days ago, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud declared that Somalia was once again in a 'political crisis'. In May, UN Special Envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, said that Somalia is approaching 'a danger zone'. For the first year or so after President Mohamud took office in September 2012, Western supporters of the Government put a positive spin on his performance. However, there is a growing sense that President Mohamud's government is not turning out to be the fresh start that Somalia needed. Al-Shabaab has suffered important military reverses since President Mohamud took office and is now focusing increasingly on launching regular violent attacks on government-held areas, including Mogadishu, where security has declined markedly recently. It has also increased its attacks in neighbouring Kenya, which sent troops into southern Somalia in 2011.
19.06.2014Nigeria: Boko Haram's insurgency
In the northeast of Nigeria, an Islamist terrorist insurgency continues to rage. At the head of the insurgency is Boko Haram, which calls for the introduction of Sharia law and an Islamic state across the whole of Nigeria. There has been a state of emergency in the three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa since mid-2013. Well over 2000 people are estimated to have died in attacks by the group since the beginning of 2014.The Nigerian authorities have been heavily criticised both at home and abroad for their ineffective response to the crisis. Outrage in Western countries following the kidnapping in April of about 270 schoolgirls in Borno state has led the UK, US and French governments to make offers of assistance to the Nigerian authorities despite the poor human rights record of the security forces.
19.05.2014A 'democratic asteroid': India's elections
As so often in the past, India's electorate has sprung a surprise. The count on 16 May gave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its presidential candidate, 62 year-old Narendra Modi, a convincing victory in the elections to India's lower house, the Lok Sabha. On a 66.38% turnout, the BJP won a majority of the seats - the first party to do so since 1984. Author and academic Sunil Khilnani described the outcome as 'a democratic asteroid.' For the Congress Party, the result is a disaster.
15.05.2014South Africa's elections: no change?
On 7 May 2014, South Africa held its fifth national and provincial elections since the end of Apartheid. The African National Congress (ANC) triumphed once again, winning 62.15% of the vote - down 3.75% on its tally in 2009. The Democratic Alliance came second with 22.13%. - up 7.57% on 2009. But while there was no big opposition breakthrough, the ruling party cannot rest on its laurels - not least in Gauteng Province, the country's economic power-house, where its vote fell by over 10% to 53.59%. Debate also continues about creating a labour party to the left of the ANC.
01.05.2014The US-Japan Security Treaty and the East China Sea
During a three day visit to Tokyo in late April 2014, US President Barack Obama confirmed that the islands in the East China Sea known as Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China are covered by 1960 US-Japan Security Treaty, under which the US has pledged to come to Japan's defence if its territory is attacked. Some observers have argued that Obama's statements mark the first time a US president has clearly taken Japan's side over islands. However, President Obama stressed that this was "not a new position". His remarks come at a time of growing Japanese nervousness about the state of its longstanding alliance with the US.
New interim government chosen after Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was ousted from office. New elections promised for July 2014. The country is plagued by violence and fighting. Fighting is often over the country's huge oil wealth. Distinction between official security forces and unlawful militias is blurred.
20.03.2014Democratic Republic of Congo: a gathering momentum towards peace?
The Special Representative of UN Secretary-General on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Martin Kohler - who is also the head of the UN mission, MONUSCO - has claimed that there is a 'new momentum' behind efforts to stabilise the country. This note briefly surveys the DRC's current trajectory.
19.03.2014Prospects for Afghanistan as ISAF withdrawal approaches
2014 is a pivotal year for Afghanistan, with a crucial presidential election in April and the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission in December. Security overall is deteriorating in Afghanistan and although the Afghan National Security Forces are taking the lead, questions remain about their effectiveness and the government's dependence on international help to pay for them. It is unclear whether there will be any Western military presence after 2014. Negotiations with the Taliban do not seem to offer much hope.
17.03.2014Ukraine, Crimea and Russia
In November 2013 the Ukrainian government decided not to sign a planned Association Agreement with the EU and demonstrations ensued in the capital Kiev. The 'Euromaidan' demonstrations turned violent in early 2014 and in February, some European foreign ministers mediated a compromise, involving a unity government and early elections.
05.03.2014Combating violence against women and girls around the world
As 8 March, International Women's Day, approaches, this note briefly surveys efforts to combat violence against women and girls around the world, focusing strongly on those that involve the UK.
21.02.2014Causes of the eurozone crisis: a summary
The causes of the eurozone crisis are summarised in this two-page overview, which examines why Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus have had to take emergency loans - or "bailouts" - from other eurozone and EU governments and the IMF.
19.02.2014The Central African Republic: a primer on the current crisis
President Francois Bozize was overthrown in March 2013 by a rebel coalition called Seleka, which then installed its leader, Michael Djotodia, as the new president. However, the country remained in turmoil and 'self-defence groups' opposed to Seleka, called Anti-Balaka, took up arms. By late 2013, senior UN officials were warning the conflict had turned into one between the Muslim minority and the Christian majority. They said there was a real danger of genocide. While not disputing the seriousness of the crisis, many experts caution against over-simplified narratives of 'Christian versus Muslim' and question claims of possible genocide. Despite the arrival of French and African peacekeepers and the resignation of Michael Djotodia - recently replaced by an interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, who heads an transitional government - violence continues in many parts of the country, with some now fearing de facto partition.
13.02.2014Burma: recent political and security developments
Burma's international rehabilitation continues. However, critics argue that the pace of this rehabilitation is too fast because the outcome of the current Constitutional review process is not yet clear; a durable peace deal with the country's ethnic insurgencies has not been achieved; and inter-communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims persists. There has been criticism of the UK Government for providing some training for the Burmese military.
09.01.2014Nigeria: MINT-ed?
Jim O'Neill, the economist who first coined the term 'BRICS' in 2001, has announced that Nigeria (along with Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey [acronym: MINT) could become one of the next emerging 'economic giants'. Yet there remain grounds for wondering whether Mr O'Neill's view is overly rose-tinted. In sharp contrast to him, some recent observers have been talking instead of possible 'revolution' or the 'disintegration' of Nigeria. Perhaps, like pre-1914 Russia, it is precariously teetering between all three options.
16.12.2013Germany's 2013 election: shaping the future?
Where is Germany - the most influential country in Europe - heading, under its new grand coalition government?
25.10.2013Azerbaijan and the 2013 presidential election
Human rights abuses were widely reported to be increasing in the run up to the 2013 election in Azerbaijan
16.10.2013The African Union, Kenya and the International Criminal Court
At an extraordinary summit of the African Union on 11-12 October 2013, heads of state and government agreed that Kenya should send a letter to the UN Security Council requesting the deferral of the ICC's ongoing proceedings against the President and Deputy President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, both of whom have been charged with crimes against humanity in the context of the post-election violence during 2007-08. Western governments face an acute dilemma. Until now, they have been strong supporters of the ICC's work in Kenya. However, in recent years, Kenya has become an active regional player in combating Islamist terrorism and recently suffered a major attack by al-Shabaab on a shopping mall in Nairobi. If the UN Security Council were to defer the proceedings, this would be the first time that this has happened since the Court's inception.
11.10.2013Nepal's peace process: towards elections for a new Constituent Assembly
After 18 months of political uncertainty about the prospects for its apparently endless peace process, Nepal is due to hold elections for a new Constituent Assembly on 19 November. The original Constituent Assembly elected under the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was dissolved in May 2012 having failed to agree a new Constitution. A break-away Maoist faction and a number of ethnically-based parties have pledged to boycott and disrupt the elections; this could bring them into direct confrontation with the army.
11.10.2013Nepal's endless peace process, 2006-12
This note gives an account of Nepal's peace process from the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in November 2006 to the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, its mandate unfulfilled, in May 2012. The note will not be updated.
29.08.2013Sanctions on Syria: existing EU/UK measures
23.08.2013In brief: Mali - Ibrahim Boubacar Keita wins the presidential election
On 11 August Mali held the second round of its presidential election. The overwhelming winner with 77.6% of the vote was Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK). He beat Soumaila Cisse, who won 22.4% of the vote. IBK has a credible mandate and has pledged to push ahead with national reconciliation, tackle corruption and rebuild the country's collapsed economy. But many challenges lie ahead.
14.08.2013The Kurds: new perspectives?
Upheaval in the Middle East is bringing about a re-alignment in relation to the Kurds.
05.08.2013In brief: Zimbabwe - 2013 elections
Zimbabwe held presidential and parliamentary elections on 31 July 2013. They resulted in overwhelming victory for President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and shattering defeat for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T). The 2013 elections were certainly extremely flawed - it had been obvious for some time that they would be - but there is no escaping the fact that President Mugabe and ZANU-PF have comprehensively outmanoeuvred their rivals.
25.07.2013The Quebec referendums
This paper gives a brief outline of separatism in Quebec, showing that many of the arguments in Canada are already being echoed in the debate about Scotland's future relationship with the rest of the UK.
22.07.2013In brief: the controversy over the November 2013 Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka
In November 2009, the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM) agreed that its 2013 meeting should be held in Sri Lanka. This decision has faced persistent criticism since then, with organisations including Human Rights Watch arguing that the Sri Lankan Government's human rights record is so poor that the Commonwealth should relocate the Summit elsewhere. The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, has rejected such calls. So far, Canada is the only Commonwealth member state to say that it will definitely not be attending the Summit. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, have confirmed that they will both be attending the Summit on behalf of the British Government (Prince Charles will represent the Queen). The official British position is that they will use their presence to raise concerns about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
04.07.2013Coup in Egypt
A brief survey of the Egyptian military's removal of President Mohamed Mursi.
01.07.2013Leaving the EU
The Treaty on European Union provides for a Member State to leave the EU, either on the basis of a negotiated withdrawal agreement or without one. If the UK were to leave the EU following a referendum, it is likely that the Government would negotiate an agreement with the EU, which would probably contain transitional arrangements as well as provide for the UK's long-term future relations with the EU. There is no precedent for such an agreement, but it would in all likelihood come at the end of complex and lengthy negotiations.
18.06.2013Syria: The legality of arming the rebels after the lifting of the EU arms embargo
Would arming the Syrian rebels be illegal, notwithstanding the lifting of the EU arms embargo?
10.06.2013Political progress in Libya?
Has Libya built on the achievement of successful elections in 2012 to make real progress towards a modern, democratic and secure state?
05.06.2013In brief: Kenya after the March 2013 elections
The 4 March presidential elections saw Jubilee Alliance candidate Uhuru Kenyatta win a narrow victory in the first round. , Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, are both due to be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. The victory of Kenyatta and Ruto has presented Western governments with a dilemma. While Western rhetorical support for the ICC remains strong, many in Kenya and beyond believe that pressure is being exerted on it 'behind the scenes' to soften its position so that the cases do not excessively impede Western cooperation with the new Government.
22.05.2013Disputes over the British Indian Ocean Territory: a survey
Between 1968 and 1973 the British Government cleared the entire Chagos Archipelago of its inhabitants, opening the way for a US military base on the biggest island, Diego Garcia. The Archipelago was made a British overseas territory, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Two main disputes have arisen from these events. One has been between the Chagos Islanders and the British Government over the legality of the former's removal and whether they have a right to return. The other has been between the UK and Mauritius about sovereignty over the BIOT. The UK has said that it will cede sovereignty to Mauritius once the BIOT is no longer required for defence purposes.
13.05.2013Burundi: recent political and security developments
Since 2010 President Jean-Pierre Nkurunziza and his CNDD-FDD government have been at loggerheads with the main opposition parties. The stand-off has raised concerns that Burundi's status as a 'post-conflict' country might be in jeopardy. These concerns have been compounded by occasional armed skirmishes between the security forces and remaining rebel groups. However, with the next elections due in 2015, in recent months there has been some progress in terms of promoting political dialogue.
13.05.2013Rwanda: recent political and security developments
Paul Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front remain in a dominant position domestically, with parliamentary elections due in September 2013 and presidential elections set for 2017. President Kagame has indicated that he may step down then. But criticism continues of the government's intolerance of open dissent. Rwanda's role in in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remains controversial too and there is virtually complete consensus across the international community that it has been providing support to rebel groups, including most recently M23.
18.04.2013In brief: the Commonwealth Charter
On 11 March 2013 in London the Queen signed the Commonwealth Charter. However, while the UK Government has welcomed it, there has been considerable criticism of the Charter on the grounds that it is not legally binding and cannot be effectively enforced. In September 2012 three Commonwealth Nobel Laureates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nadine Gordimer and Wole Soyinka had said that a weak and ineffective Charter should not be endorsed. LGBT rights campaigners have also been vocal in signalling disappointment with the final text.
16.04.2013The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands: tension between Japan and China in the East China Sea
Tensions between Japan and China in connection with long-standing rival claims to sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea have deepened since September 2012, with nationalist sentiment being stirred up in both countries. Taiwan also claims the islands. Japan, which administers the islands, does not accept that there is a dispute to be resolved. China insists that there is. This note briefly summarizes the competing claims and reviews developments over the last six months or so.
10.04.2013Venezuela: the Chávez Legacy
This note looks at the politics and economics in Venezuela under President Hugo Chávez, his legacy and future prospects for Venezuela.
15.03.2013In brief: South Africa - Zuma set for a second term in 2014
In December 2012, at the African National Congress (ANC) conference in Mangaung, President Jacob Zuma was re-elected leader of the party. This makes it virtually inevitable that he will be South Africa's next President following national elections next year, which the ANC remain overwhelming favourites to win comfortably. Nonetheless, all is far from entirely rosy for Zuma and the ANC. In recent years it has been deeply divided over economic policy, damaged by mounting official corruption and faced with growing discontent from below over its alleged failure to deliver better public services.
05.03.2013Independence and Constitutional Referendums Around the World
This note looks at independence referendums around the world and referendums on other constitutional arrangements short of full independence in the 20th and 21st centuries.
01.03.2013North Korea: domestic developments during Kim Jong-Un's first year in power
This note briefly surveys domestic developments in North Korea since the death of Kim Jong-Il in December 2011 and the succession of his son, Kim Jong-Un. The nuclear issue is referred to only in passing. Insofar as we can know, Kim Jong-Un appears to have consolidated power smoothly and quickly. There are signs that the new leadership wants to shift from a 'Military First' to a 'People First' policy, which will involve economic reform measures. However, there are no real signs yet of an improvement on human rights.
27.02.2013China: new political directions under a new leadership?
A new Chinese leadership is about to take power at the National People's Congress, which begins on 5 March. Xi Jinping will take on the role of President, while Li Keqiang will become Premier. The succession of the 'fifth generation' of Communist leaders appeared to have been destabilised during 2012 following the fall of Bo Xilai, but in the end has gone relatively smoothly. Commentators are now focused on whether and, if so, how Xi and Li will change China's political course. This note surveys some of the views being expressed on this issue.
20.02.2013In brief: Malawi under President Joyce Banda
Joyce Banda became Malawi's president in turbulent circumstances in April 2012 and since then has sought to build domestic support and win back previously alienated Western donors through an economic and political reform programme. While she has had some successes, there is currently growing public discontent about the economy and her political position is still vulnerable. Her prospects in the 2014 elections are uncertain.
05.02.2013The crisis in Mali: current military action and upholding humanitarian law
This note describes the current military intervention in Mali, led by France, which began on 11 January as a reaction to the southward advance of militant Islamist armed groups with links to al-Qaeda. It also looks at the intervention in the context of upholding humanitarian law.
01.02.2013Southeast Asia: an update
The political and economic profile of Southeast Asia as a region continues to rise. The UK is scaling up its engagement with the region. This briefing provides country snapshots of the main events in six of the countries in the region since the start of 2012 and also looks at significant developments over the past year or so in the UK's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its member states.
28.01.2013In brief: North Korea and the nuclear issue one year on from the succession
After a failed ballistic missile launch by North Korea in April 2012, an apparently more successful one took place in December, characterized at the time by the regime as a satellite launch. The UN Security Council passed a resolution further toughening sanctions. North Korea has responded to the new sanctions with its customary threatening rhetoric and has announced that it is preparing to conduct a third nuclear weapon test, following on from those undertaken in 2006 and 2009. This note surveys the state of play on the nuclear issue in the light of internal developments in North Korea, where Kim Jon-Un appears to have consolidated his power.
21.12.2012Large-scale land acquisitions in developing countries - camouflage for 'land grabbing'?
Oxfam has launched a campaign on the issue of 'land-grabbing' - or what others would call 'large-scale land acquisitions' - in developing countries around the world, including by foreign governments or companies, with the World Bank primarily in its sights. This note is a brief introduction to the debate, current multilateral initiatives on the issue and the stance of the UK Government.
20.12.2012Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war
Sri Lanka's civil war ended in May 2009. Since then President Mohinda Rajapakse has consolidated his power at home but has been unable to shake off international controversy about alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by the security forces during the final phase of the conflict. There are also grave doubts about whether the govermment is willing to promote the kind of regional autonomy that many observers believe is essential to avoiding renewed conflict in the longer-term.
14.12.2012Kenya since the 2007/08 crisis
This note reviews major political developments since the 2007/08 crisis, whose legacies Kenya is still struggling to overcome. Elections are scheduled for March 2013 but two of the candidates seeking high office - Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto - are due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court in the following month. Meanwhile, Kenyan troops have now been in southern Somalia for over a year and helped re-take the strategic port of Kismayo in September 2012. But there remains uncertainty about Kenya's objectives in Somalia.
06.12.2012Pakistan in 2013
2013 will be another important year for Pakistan. Federal and provincial elections will be held during the first half of the year. If, as seems increasingly likely, the Pakistan People's Party-led Government sees out its full term in office and hands over to a civilian successor, it will be the first time in Pakistan's history that this has happened. But the political and economic situation remains highly volatile and unpredictable.
23.11.2012In brief: deja vu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
On 20 November, forces belonging to the March 23 (M23) armed group seized Goma, the main city in eastern DRC. This note briefly surveys the events of recent days and the many echoes of the past that they evoke. It also looks at the roles of Rwanda and Uganda, which is leading Western governments, including the UK, to review their aid programmes to both countries.
31.10.2012Mali in crisis: a political and security overview
Mali has been in crisis since March 2012, when the military overthrew the government of Amadou Toumani Touré. Within weeks of the coup, a coalition of Tuareg rebels and militant Islamist armed groups pushed the national army out of the north of the country. There is now growing momentum behind proposals to create a regional military intervention force. But many questions remain about the wisdom of this course of action.
30.10.2012Antarctic Bill
This Private Member's Bill makes provision for expeditions in Antarctica to have contingency plans to deal with environmental emergencies.
24.09.2012Zimbabwe: recent political developments
This note surveys developments since the beginning of 2011, during which time implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement has remained painfully limited. Halting progress is being made towards agreement on a new Constitution, but there remains a real possibility that President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF might abandon the negotiations and opt for early elections under the old Constitution, which greatly favours them. Elections are due by June 2013. Zimbabwe's political prospects remain highly uncertain.
02.08.2012Arab uprisings: an update
Two of the three countries that have had elections since the Arab uprisings - Tunisia and Egypt - have seen mainstream and more radical Islamists dominating. In Libya, the third of the three, a pragmatic and relatively secular politician who had been former Prime Minister during the rebellion did well. It is still early to know what these new governments will do.
18.07.2012Libya's General Assembly election 2012
On 7 July 2012, Libya held its first democratic election since 1964. Preliminary results suggest that the former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril won a landslide victory among seats reserved for party candidates. However, this should not yet be interpreted as a victory for liberals over Islamists. 120 of the 200 seats are reserved for independents and their politics are not yet clear. Mahmoud Jibril has denied that he is a secularist. Nevertheless, it is very different from election results in Egypt and Tunisia, where the parties associated with the Muslim Brotherhood did well.
31.05.2012In brief: Guinea-Bissau - has the 12 April coup been overturned or rewarded?
A 12 April coup has provoked renewed political crisis in the West African state of Guinea Bissau. On 20 May there was an ECOWAS-backed deal under which power was ostensibly returned to civilians, but there is concern about its credibility and legitimacy. The crisis is likely to set-back recent efforts to strengthen Guinea-Bissau's capacity to combat drug-trafficking and thereby shed its reputation as a 'narco-state'. In a country where there are regular military coups, no president has completed a full term in office since the mid 1990s.
03.05.2012Bangladesh: the International Crimes Tribunal
The Government of Bangladesh has re-established a long dormant International Crimes Tribunal to try people for alleged 'international crimes' committed during the 1971 war of independence. Eight men, all senior figures in opposition parties, currently face trial. While steps have been taken to strengthen the rules of procedure of the Tribunal, there are criticisms that the process still falls short of interntional standards.
01.05.2012Madagascar's political crisis
The continuing political crisis in Madagascar began when Andre Rajoelina successfully ousted the incumbent President, Marc Ravalomana, in March 2009 and installed himself instead, albeit formally as a transitional leader pending elections. The international community considers Rajoelina illegitimate. Regional mediation efforts to return Madagascar to 'constitutional rule' led to a peace deal in September 2011, but implementation remains fraught and the danger reamains that the process could collapse.
27.04.2012Sudan and South Sudan: All-out war?
On 9 July 2011, South Sudan formally seceded from Sudan. But many issues remain unresolved and there has been an upsurge in conflict since then in Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan - known as the 'Three Areas'. This note surveys the many challenges still facing the 'two Sudans'.
19.04.2012The IMF's resources
The IMF's resources come from quotas contributed by each of its 187 Member States (around £234bn in total) and from standing credit arrangements with certain industrialised and emerging economies (currently around £215bn).
12.04.2012Chad: A political and security digest
This note provides a quick guide to political and security issues currently affecting Chad -a country that at the moment may seem superficially stable, but one for which the norm over the past half century has been a condition of permanent emergency
04.04.2012In brief: Burma - the beginning of a new era?
Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy achieved a stunning victory in recent by-elections, leading some to argue that Burma's democratic transition is no sham after all. This note briefly surveys the debate about what has been achieved so far, what remains to be done and whether the time has come to scrap Western sanctions.
03.04.2012The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union: views in other EU Member States
This Note looks briefly at views on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union in the other EU Member States, the US, China and Russia.
28.02.2012Does Somali piracy have any 'developmental effects'?
There has been growing debate about where the spoils of Somali piracy have been going. How far are they helping to support the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab? Is some of the money going into the pockets of local politicians and businessmen with links to the pirates? Could a surprisingly large portion of the spoils be percolating through to ordinary Somalis? This note briefly surveys recent debates on the last two of these questions.
28.02.2012Somalia: recent political, security and humanitarian developments
This note surveys the military set-backs experienced by al-Shabaab since the beginning of 2011, the motives behind the current Kenyan incursion into southern Somalia, recent international efforts to promote a viable political process on the ground and the continuing food crisis in the country.
15.02.2012Is Iran building a nuclear weapon?
Iran's nuclear programme remains at the top of the international agenda. Many commentators think that Iran has not made a decision to build a nuclear weapon, but that Iran may want to be at the threshold, with the technical ability and materials to build a weapon fairly quickly if the decision were to be made.
30.01.2012In brief: Pakistan's multiple crises
This note briefly surveys the current crisis in civil-military relations in Pakistan, which is symbolised by the 'memogate' scandal. With the Supreme Court also hearing a charge of contempt of court against Prime Minister Gilani, the government's position looks precarious. While a military coup is possible, early elections are more likely.
19.01.2012Oil embargo on Iran and the threat to the Straits of Hormuz
EU countries are preparing to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran, to include an embargo on the import of oil. The US has also enacted new legislation which will target the Iranian central bank and make oil trading more difficult for Iran. Iran has responded with some threatening comments about closing the Straits of Hormuz, leading to a rise in the oil price. It has also signalled that it is open to re-starting talks. This note details these developments and gives some samples of recent expert commentary.
03.01.2012Russian revolt?
The election for the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) saw a dramatic slump in the legitimacy of Vladimir Putin's regime. The Kremlin was widely perceived to have falsified the results but still lost many seats. This note looks at the difficulties faced by the Russian elite and some possible consequences for relations with western neighbours.
03.01.2012North Korea's dynastic succession
This note briefly surveys the final month's of Kim Jong-Il's rule in North Korea and, following his death on 17 December 2011, the rise of his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un, to power.
13.12.2011In Brief: The Financial Restrictions (Iran) Order 2011
Comprehensive financial sanctions were imposed on Iran by Statutory Instrument 2775, The Financial Restrictions (Iran) Order 2011, to be debated on a motion to approve on 13 December 2011.
05.12.2011Afghan reconciliation and the Bonn conference
This note describes briefly the security situation in Afghanistan, the progress or otherwise of attempts to reconcile and reintegrate insurgents with the government and looks at the conference to be held in Bonn, marking the 10th anniversary of the conference which set up the present government.
25.11.2011In Brief: Egyptian election 2011
A brief run-down of the first election in Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak
25.11.2011In Brief: Syrian crisis
A short note on teh deepening Syrian crisis
23.11.2011Morocco and the 2011 election
Morocco holds an important parliamentary election on 25 November. Under constitutional reforms proposed by the King, Muhammad IV, parliament will gain significant new powers.
23.11.2011Women and the Afghan transition
There has been a lot of concern that Afghan women will be the main losers in the next few years as international forces withdraw and the Kabul government negotiates some sort of accommodation with the insurgency.
15.11.2011The Arab Uprisings
Since December 2010, the most profound process of change has affected the countries of the Arab world. The change spread quickly between the countries of the region, underlining the many common factors that provoked unrest. How the region's revolutions progress, however, depends on the individual characteristics of each country, which are very different. This paper looks at these similarities and differences and considers the possible outcomes in each case. The legitimacy of ruling regimes, the effect of societies' divisions along confessional lines and the role of the region's militaries are considered.
11.11.2011IMF quotas and proposed increases
Quotas paid by member states are the main financial resource of the IMF. This note explains how they work with particular reference to the UK, and describes the proposed changes that will see quotas double.
10.11.2011Ukraine, the EU, Russia and Tymoshenko
The boundaries of western and Russian influence in Eastern Europe are in play in Ukraine.
07.11.2011In Brief: The IAEA report and action against Iran
The IAEA is to release a report on the Iranian nuclear programme on 8 or 9 November. The report will give strong evidence suggesting that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon, and there has been a flurry of speculation that Israel is preparing for military action against Iran.
01.11.2011In brief: Baluchistan - Pakistan's forgotten conflict
This note provides a brief background to the protracted, but all but forgotten conflict in Baluchistan, a marginalised but resource-rich and strategically important province of Pakistan.
07.10.2011In brief: elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo
This note reviews the prospects for the presidential and parliamentary elections which are due to be held in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 25 November 2011
29.07.2011Issues facing LGBT people in sub-Saharan Africa: suggested reading
This bibliographical note gathers together a selection of press articles and official and civil society sources of information about the issues facing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in sub-Saharan Africa today.
28.07.2011Power struggle in Iran
This note looks at the internal politics of Iran and, in particular, the recent split in the conservative camp between supporters of Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei and the President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
21.07.2011Iran's nuclear programme: an update
Shortly after taking office, US President Obama gave negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme one year to produce results, promising to push for a new set of United Nations sanctions if there was no progress. The E3+3 countries, France, Germany and the United Kingdom plus China, Russia and the United States reached agreement on a fourth round of sanctions in June 2010 This note looks at Iran's nuclear programme, the effects of UN, US and EU sanctions and possible alternative approaches to the problem.
05.07.2011Progress of the Afghan conflict: recent commentaries
This note is a compilation of excerpts from a variety of official and think tank publications on the progress of and outlook for the west's strategy in Afghanistan.
28.06.2011The International Criminal Court: new crimes and a new Prosecutor
As the International Criminal Court (ICC) moves towards opening its fourth trial, its jurisdiction is being widened and its most public face, the ICC Prosecutor, is about to be replaced at the end of his term.
24.06.2011Equatorial Guinea: a quick introduction
Equatorial Guinea is often cited as a classic example of the 'resource curse' which can strike poor countries with weak formal institutions when oil is discovered. This note provides a brief introduction to Equatorial Guinea, including UK and EU relations with the country.
16.06.2011Uprising in Tunisia
This note describes the background to the riots in Tunisia, the recent series of events leading to the flight of the president, the interim government and progress towards elections.
15.06.2011In brief: Arab uprisings 2011
A very brief survey of developments in the Arab world in 2011
10.06.2011Unrest spreads to Syria
This note looks at the background to the recent unrest in Syria and analyses briefly the threats to the regime and its sources of strength, and the position of western governments towards the regime.
24.05.2011Progress in Egypt?
The note looks at the constitutional referendum held in Egypt and on political developments in the country.
17.05.2011Hamas, Fatah and the Middle East Quartet principles
This note briefly considers the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, composed of the US, the UN, the EU and Russia, and its three principles governing engagement: the renunciation of violence, the recognition of the State of Israel and the acceptance of previous diplomatic agreements.
13.05.2011Political developments in Afghanistan
This note looks at the political system in Afghanistan in the wake of the 2010 parliamentary elections and the moves towards reintegration and a negotiated settlement with the Taliban.
11.05.2011In brief: Pakistan - probable disintegration or underlying resilience?
Drawing on two recent studies of the country, this note briefly discusses two ways of understanding the trajectory and character of Pakistan
30.03.2011Turmoil in the Middle East
This note looks at the instability in the Middle East and North Africa since the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings.
15.03.2011Uprising in Egypt
Egypt's revolt has been greeted as a historic moment that will have enormous consequences throughout the Arab world. This note provides a simple chronological account of events swince 25 January. It looks a the background to the crisis and profiles groups and individuals involved and considers some likely outcomes of the present crisis.
02.03.2011UK relations with Libya
This note details the sometimes controversial dealings between the UK government and the regime of Muammer Qaddafi and looks at the reasons for Libya's partial rehabilitation by the west, in which the UK was closely involved.
19.01.2011Iraq at the creation of its new government
On 22 December 2010 Iraq at last announced the formation of a new government, some nine months after inconclusive elections. This note looks at the composition of the government and political and security conditions in the country.
04.01.2011In brief: The Horn of Africa - review of events during 2010 and prospects for 2011
This note briefly reviews events in the Horn of Africa during 2010 and prospects for 2011
20.12.2010In brief: Belarus election and dissent
Brief summary of the election in Belarus and subsequent demonstrations
27.09.2010Number of Parliamentarians: International Comparisons
This note compares the number of parliamentarians in the lower or single chamber of different countries.
02.06.2010Fixed term parliaments- early dissolution arrangements
This Note is intended to be a companion to Library Standard Note 831 Fixed Term Parliaments. It explains how fixed term parliaments operate in a number of other advanced democracies, both parliamentary and presidential.
01.06.2010Sudan, 2003-09
In order to make sense of Sudan's present and possible futures, it is vital to know something of its recent past. This is the purpose of this Standard Note, which provides a detailed account of events in Sudan, including their regional impact, between 2003 and 2009. It will not be updated.
30.04.2010Global Economic Crisis & developing countries
This note was last published on 26 August 2009 and will not be updated. In the early stages of the financial crisis there were hopes that it would be largely contained within developed economies, with developing economies having 'decoupled' from them. These early hopes proved unfounded, with developing countries struck by declining trade, a loss of investor confidence and withdrawal of investment, a fall in the value of vital remittances, and much reduced growth and contraction in some cases. There are also fears that aid flows may suffer in the aftermath of the crisis. This note summarises key reports and statistics, with links to further resources.
05.02.2010Where are Turkey's new international relations taking it?
Turkey's path in the international arena is changing, with a growing focus on its regional and eastern neighbours. However, commentators have yet to predict whether this change is deepening Turkey's relationship with the West or moving it away.
30.12.2009Ethiopia in the run-up to May 2010 elections
The 2005 federal and regional elections in Ethiopia produced a major political crisis. Now the electoral wheel has turned and observers are waiting to see whether the May 2010 elections will be less turbulent. This note provides a brief historical and social survey of Ethiopia. It then looks at the political situation in Ethiopia since 2005. It concludes with a short update on the state of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border dispute.
05.06.2009War and peace in Sri Lanka
This paper provides a brief historical and social survey of Sri Lanka, including the origins of the conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. It then gives an account of developments since 2002, when a ceasefire was agreed and hopes were raised - rapidly to be dashed - that there might be a peaceful negotiated resolution of the conflict. The paper also surveys the stance taken by the international community on the conflict, the military capabilities of the Sri Lankan military, and aid and development issues. It concludes by considering Sri Lanka's future prospects, including assessing how real the Government's military victory is and whether genuine political and constitutional reforms are likely to be introduced.
24.04.2009Russia and the West
A year on from Dmitry Medvedev's succession to the Kremlin, this paper analyses the evolution of Russian foreign policy under both Putin and Medvedev. It seeks to identify the main themes, interests, and objectives of Russian foreign policy, and to appraise the role of President Medvedev in the direction of Russian diplomacy and his relationship with Prime Minister Putin. In so doing, it examines, in detail, Russia's relationship with the United States, NATO, the EU, and the UK and analyses the role of energy in relations between Russia and the West. Finally, it looks ahead at the prospects for the relationship in light of President Obama's declared intention to press the 'reset' button in US-Russian relations.
The 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising was commemorated on 10 March 2009. This Note provides brief background for Members and their staff. It is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive.
23.06.2008British foreign policy since 1997
British foreign policy since 1997. House of Commons Library Research Paper 08/56.
06.07.2007Hamas and the seizure of Gaza
Hamas and the seizure of Gaza. House of Commons Library Research Paper 07/60.